World Suicide Prevention Day – Creating Hope through Action
In 2003, the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP), with the endorsement of the World Health Organisation (WHO) designated September 10 as the World Suicide Prevention Day. Since then, this day has been observed every year to highlight the important issue of suicide prevention, raise awareness across the globe, and to remember people who have lost their lives to suicide.
This annual campaign lasts until World Mental Health Day on 10 October but the message of awareness, support, and action must be spread every day.
WHO estimates that annually 703,000 people die by suicide. Beyond the deaths by suicide, many more people make suicide attempts or have serious suicidal thoughts.
This affects millions of people worldwide as each suicide or suicide attempt causes a devastating impact on survivors, families and communities. This is a serious public health issue that demands immediate attention and collective action.
Despite this alarming data, there is hope that suicides are preventable through collaborative, evidence-based interventions. National suicide prevention strategies that focus on help-seeking, awareness raising, stigma reduction, maintenance of a sound national database, and decriminalisation are key to reducing the rates worldwide.
For people living with mental health conditions, barriers such as these make it more difficult for them to get help and adds to the stigma around mental illness and suicide.
Read more on the work UnitedGMH is doing with partners including the IASP on suicide decriminalisation.
As the WHO Member States have committed themselves to working towards the goal of reducing suicide rates globally by one third by 2030 in the WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013–2030, it is imperative for member states to start working towards it now.
WHO recommends limiting access to the means of suicide and engaging media for responsible reporting of suicide. In addition, early identification, assessment, management and follow up anyone who is affected by suicidal behaviours is a proven effective intervention. Integrating lived experience in every phase of suicide prevention efforts is imperative.
Creating Hope through Action
From 2021 to 2023, the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) has set the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day as “Creating Hope through Action”.
This theme includes encouraging understanding about the issue, reaching out to people who are struggling, and sharing our experiences, as part of the action to prevent suicide.
It highlights the fact that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us.
By creating hope, we can reduce the stigma around suicide and foster a culture where people in need can easily seek help. Meaningful and safe conversations around suicide can also help spread the message that it is okay to talk about suicide. Through action, we can play a supporting role to people in crisis.
It is crucial for everyone to play their part in saving lives through joint suicide prevention efforts. Governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, donors, healthcare professionals, patients, families, friends, coworkers, and communities must all play a role, no matter how small.
Together we can #BeTheLight and through our action we can build a world where suicides are not as prevalent.
Visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) website for more information and resources on World Suicide Prevention Day.